Suppression of voters harms democracy

Supressing voters undermines institutional strength and belies democracy

Connor McNeely, Staff Columnist

 Though the voting process is largely a fair and organized operation, there are some problems that appear every election cycle. The authorities amid our government do the best they can to make sure the vote of every citizen counts, but sometimes there are obstructions. This year, in this highly contentious election, we have witnessed many of these obstructions develop before our very eyes.

Now, I’m going to put a disclaimer here that I’m not trying to discourage anyone from voting or discredit how much of an impact your vote has. In fact, I’m begging everyone who has the ability to vote to go out and make their voice heard. Many people believe that their vote won’t have much of an effect on the presidential or senatorial elections, but what they don’t know is that on the ballot there are local and regional elections that are highly important to their daily lives. If you don’t believe that your vote counts, go out and do the research and argue against yourself to make sure that you’re right — because you’re not.

However, there are many examples of these obstructions to the voting process. In California, the Republican Party set up unofficial ballot boxes for voters to return their ballots, ignoring the state laws which stipulated that only an election official was eligible to set up drop boxes for ballot collection. The ballot boxes also eliminated the person to person delivery of ballots that were recently put into California law in 2016 — the colloquial term is ‘ballot harvesting’. There have been headlines in North Carolina concerning the probability that black voters mail-in ballots are twice as likely to be rejected than whites. Shocking headlines like these are one of the many problems that I have with the media of this age. Their audience sees the titles of these stories and take no time to read the content of the article. The reason why the mail-in ballots are more likely to be rejected is because the ballots are incorrectly filled out.

The obstructions that I have mentioned have many reasons behind them. In California, the Republican Party’s attempt to set up unofficial ballot drop boxes is clearly an attempt to have party officials or third party individuals count and canvass ballots, and possibly tamper with them. Personally, it’s not surprising that we still have this level of political interference in this day and age. Even though it isn’t surprising, it should be unacceptable. It shows a lack of respect for this country and the political system which we have created to honor every citizen. And it also shows the severity of brainwashing that the two party system has inflicted upon the people of the United States. 

 Personally, it’s not surprising that we still have this level of political interference in this day and age.”

In North Carolina, the mail-in ballots that were rejected because they weren’t filled out correctly, but there is some lingering uncertainty in the regulating the conflict surrounding incorrect mail-in ballots. If you search for an explanation for why the ballots of Black voters are more likely to be rejected than white voters, you’ll receive the reasoning that far more Black voters are mailing in this year than any other, and that they’re unfamiliar with the system. But to be fair, every ethnic group is mailing in ballots at a much higher rate than any other year because of the pandemic. The statistics about discarded ballots seem to be way too disproportionate to me if they are to be representative of only the Black voter’s unfamiliarity. 

Although the second example may be less clear, the evident lack of understanding surrounding the issue points to a larger problem. There’s even a turbulent political battle regarding the board of elections. Two Republicans resigned because of rule changes, which allowed for voters to fill out an affidavit to correct their vote instead of obtaining a new ballot — a much more complicated process. This issue, coupled with many other controversial regulations about how mail-in and absentee ballots are counted are the unsolved problems which haunt our democracy.

I am optimistic in the change that has come about in this election. More and more people are becoming more educated and active in the voting process, and this will probably lead to more intricate laws — which are often the most impactful. We need to ensure the security of our right to vote. Right now, the decisions of tens of thousands of citizens depends on it. They could be the difference in any election.